Tag Archives: gardening

Verdant Possibilities: A Midsummer Minnesota Garden

24 Jul
by Deanne

While we are in the midst of running our café for the summer, I have fallen into a pattern of reporting what is called a Solar Forecast each morning on my business facebook page. I thought of the idea from the title of a children’s book called: Cloudy with a Chance of MeatballsCloudy_with_a_Chance_of_Meatballs_(book)

It is a playful way to share our our featured wraps, rice plates, and soups.  The “weather” sometimes reflects the real weather and often describes other things that are going on in our space.


Today I wanted to make a post to describe the state of our garden and I thought of the word verdant to express what is going on in the raised beds next to our restaurant. According to this online dictionary verdant means:


1 a : green in tint or color

b : green with growing plants <verdant fields>

2: unripe in experience or judgment

I think both definitions fit our garden. It is green with growing plants and I am unripe in experience or judgment when it comes to growing things. Luckily I don’t do the soil amendments and planting.  I leave that to my husband who studied soil science and agronomy.  

Photo of Berry

So far this year my job has been to pick berries, peas, and beans.  I do it in the cool of morning while my amateur agronomist  is inside sheeting dough for our wraps

But even then, I am not sure when to pick things. 

Does anyone know when green beans done? 

Photo of green bean plants

Photo credits:  Amanda Petersen Photography


Garden Tour: Late May 2013

5 Jun
by Deanne

It is time again to share our garden updates like we did last summer. Luke took photographs in Late May 2012, Late June 2012, Late July 2013, and Late August 2012.  Living in a northern landscape like Minnesota makes one truly celebrate the growing season.

Photo of raised bed-spinachAs a reminder, Steve built raised beds  outside our restaurant building during the summer of 2011.  We utilize our garden for what we call FarmerChef specials. 

Since Luke moved to Los Angeles earlier this year, we have been working with Amanda Petersen Photography.  We love the images Amanda has captured of our space.  You will know if a photo comes from her work if you see her  signature….we will be using many shots in our blog.  

Photo of lettuceOur little lettuce plants get going during our cool month of May.

photo of strawberry plantsThe strawberry blossoms are a good sign if we hope to have delicate sweet berries in June.

Eager little pea plants establishing themselves and claiming their space.Photo of pea plants

Photo of raised bed twoWe look forward to crisp radishes soon!

Photo of tomato plantsHow big will our tomatoes grow this year?

Photo credits:  Amanda Petersen Photography

Garden Tour: Late August 2012

2 Sep
by Deanne

Wow!   We can’t believe it is time to share another garden tour I am excited to get this posted today because it is Francine’s birthday and she loves to see what is happening in Minnesota.  While she is enjoying the historic places in England…she often mentions missing the Minnesota sunshine.  Happy birthday to my lovely daughter, Francine!

During August we were able to plant a few crops for the fall growing season.

Photo of Garden in Late AugustOur new plants include snow peas, lettuce, spinach, and turnips which we planted for the greens. Since this was a last minute decision, we bought the new seeds for ten cents at the local farm and garden store instead of the Henry Field’s seed catalog like we used when we did our winter planning. The seeds were left over from this spring but if they don’t work out, we don’t have a lot invested.  So far all are looking good.

However, we are still getting plenty of bounty from our summer crops!

Green Peppers + Tomatoes = Salsa

Photo of Tomatoes

We look forward to using our salsa in upcoming FarmerChef recipes when the growing season comes to an end.

Photo of pepper plant

Photo of yellow squash

We haven’t tried it yet, but we’ve read that it is possible to eat squash blossoms. 

Have you tried that before?

Photo of our fall spinach crop

Photo of new little sprouts

Do you plant new seeds for the fall growing season?

(Another BIG thanks to Luke for taking the photos.)

Garden Tour: Late July part II

13 Aug
Photo of the grapevineby Francine

Part of this blogging adventure is about keeping in touch since I’m in England, and it’s great fun to share this blogging project.  Last week I was so excited to see the photos of the Solar’s garden in MN that I pushed publish to share it with all the virtual world, only to find out my mom was left wondering…how did it go live…I was going to add more photos??

Opps.  That was me.  We can blame it on transatlantic mis-communication and the fact that I’m working, job searching and trying to stay on top of household duties, which include wholesome home cooked meals.  (I don’t know how moms do it!!!  Much respect mommies of the world!)

Anyway, here’s the rest of the garden tour…live from MN!

See what the garden looked like in May and June.  It’s amazing to see all the growth!

The grapevines are starting to crawl up the pole of the patio!

They didn’t expect to see any berries this year so were very excited to discover raspberries. Photo of rasberries

The roma tomatoes are thriving.  Who knew tomatoes could be so shiny!?

photo of a tomato

How’s your garden looking this August?

Garden Tour: Late July 2012

3 Aug
by Deanne

A lot has happened since we shared our last garden tour. We decided to close our restaurant but not our building or business.  A big reason to stay in this little patch of the world is our raised-bed garden and mini-orchard. We plan to figure out how to use the space to promote healthy cooking and eating.  So far, we’ve used the vegetables we’ve grown for FarmerChef specials.

Photo of Garden

Last month the onions were showing their shoulders. Now they are drying out in the hot summer sun.

Photo of onions drying

When you provide the right environment, plants just do their thing.  Here we corralled our tomato plants to contain their stellar growth.

Photo of Tomatoes

The sun has been hot, just what it takes to grow summer squash.

Photo of Summer Squash

How’s your garden looking?

(Another BIG thanks to Luke for taking the photos.)

Adventures in Raspberry Jamming

17 Jul
Hi there! Today our friend D’Lisha is sharing her recent FarmerChef experience.  D’Lisha works with us at our restaurant; and her family is definitely into growing and eating real food…last fall she brought us some beautiful red tomatoes. We’ve never made jam (or canned anything for that matter!) so it was interesting and helpful to hear about her experience.

Adventures in Raspberry Jamming

Hello Real Local Cookers!  Thank you to Deanne and Francine for inviting me to share my experience of making raspberry jam for the first time.

Last week was hot and muggy, but I had the opportunity to gather raspberries from the family farm.  There’s a large patch that grows wild; my father-in-law found it in the grove this year.   (For those of you that don’t live in on the prairie, a grove is a bunch of trees strategically planted as a  windbreak.)   In addition to the wild bushes hidden among the trees, my husband, Brian, also has an established patch in one of our many garden spaces.  As our buckets grew full and I chased my energetic 3 year old, Tyler, in and out of the grove, I knew that whatever I made with these berries, it would need to be straightforward and somewhat quick since most of my is spent running after my little man.

A photo of raspberry jamI found this quick and easy recipe on the Seattle Examiner’s Farmers’ Market recipes.  The recipe only called for berries and sugar and promised to take less than an hour to make a few jars. Hooray! Just the ticket, I thought as Tyler climbed to the highest point of our couch, ready to jump from his imaginary mountain.

I’m new to jams so I was unsure how to seal the jars after I got the jam ready. Thank goodness for all the information on the internet! There are many ways to seal jam jars. I discovered that most people use the hot water bath method.

Meanwhile I had purchased Gulf Wax (household paraffin wax) at our local grocery store. I saw that it was for canning and many other uses…who would have thought that you could seal jars and wax a surf board with the same product!!  I was a little put off by its many waxy uses, but I was still willing to find out more about using wax for canning. The more I researched, I found it was not the safest product to use. If you don’t get a good seal you could encounter mold problems in your jams and jellies…and no one wants moldy jam!!

I decided that the best jam jar-sealing method for my family would be to get the jam ready while boiling the lids and jars and preparing the sugar+berry jam mixture.  The recipe I found was very easy to follow.  But next time I would use a different pot and a big whisk, if you use a spoon to stir the boiling jam mixture for 15 minutes you’re bound to get a few burns, like I did…oops!A photo of raspberry jam

After the jam reached my desired consistency, I carefully poured it into the already hot jars (which I’d boiled when making the jam).  Then I put the lids on and flipped them upside down and left them until they were cool to touch which was about an hour. By the time I flipped the jars back over, they were cooled and a nice seal had formed.

I’m so glad that I figured out how to make raspberry jam! My family has been enjoying our raspberry jam with bread I made.  That is a first too!  Tyler really likes to eat the jam on vanilla ice cream.

Have you ever made raspberry jam?  Which method for sealing the jars do you use?

Thanks again for letting me share my FarmerChef experience.  Happy jamming everyone!

Aren’t these hedgehogs by Anne Solfud cute!?  Francine loves hedgehogs and Deanne went strawberry picking a few weeks ago…perfect!

Garden Tour: Late June 2012

2 Jul
by Deanne

It has already been a month since we shared a garden tour of the raised beds and other plants growing near our restaurant.  We have been using the vegetables we’ve grown for FarmerChef specials.

As you can see, the beans have survived their episode with thrips.

Photo of Beans

Summer heat has set in so we are done picking lettuce.  But we are getting ready to harvest our beets.

Photo of Beets

We’ve pulled a few carrots so far.

Photo of Carrots

The onions are showing their shoulders.  Is this a sign they can be harvested?

Photo of Onions

A cute little pepper still on the vine.

A photo of a pepper on the vine

A few weeks ago we wondered about our tomatoes.  The leaves were dry and looked unhealthy.  Our local master gardener, Mike Tomschin, said the only thing wrong with them is they are Roma tomatoes.  He said this with a smile and went on to explain that Roma tomatoes that grow in our area don’t handle the fluctuation in temperature well.  His prediction that they would be fine once the warm summer nights hit, has proved to be correct.  Thanks Mike!

Photo of Romas Growing on the Vine

How’s your garden looking?

( Another BIG thanks to Luke for taking the photos.)